Road transport exempt from surprise safety inspections

Stirling, Scotland, UK: The road transport sectors is among those industries that the Health and Safety Executive has declared immune from unannounced health and safety inspections.

A Freedom of Information request by Professor Rory O’Neill, from Stirling University, has revealed that at least 37 employment sectors are immune from unannounced health and safety inspections. The request also discovered that 53% of workplace fatalities occurred in uninspected sectors, which include heavy industries.

The Health and Safety Executive selected a number of industrial sectors to be exempt after the government called for sectors to be excluded from inspection. O’Neill said: “”The majority of workplace deaths now occur in sectors officially excused from unannounced inspections by the safety regulator.

“On UK Government orders the HSE has designated most industrial sectors, from farms to footwear, either too safe for them to bother or just not worth the effort even if they are shockingly dangerous.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “It’s right to target health and safety inspections where they will have most impact and risks are high, but that doesn’t mean other sectors of the economy are ignored.

“Every business continues to have a legal responsibility to protect its workers and anyone affected by its activities.
“In the past too many unnecessary inspections were carried out on businesses. Our approach gets the balance right.”

Professor O’Neill has outlined his conclusions in his report Low life: How the Government has put a low price on your life.

Since the government’s March 2011 strategy took effect, the majority of workplace deaths occurred in sectors where Health and Safety Executive (HSE) no longer undertakes routine preventive inspections.
• Total worker deaths from April 2011 – 29 October 2012: 258
• Deaths in uninspected sectors: 40 (2012/13 incomplete) plus 77 (2011/12)  = 137 [53.1%]
• Deaths in inspected sectors: 35+69 = 104 [40.3%]
• Deaths in sectors where the inspection situation is unclear: 7+10 = 17 [6.6%]

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